The NBA Draft is coming up, which means The Game Haus will be doing draft profiles for each NBA team. Each day, a new team will be analyzed for their past season, their team needs and targets. Today the New Orleans Pelicans will be evaluated.
DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo left the Pelicans to go play for the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers respectively. This was after they were able to upset the Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2018 playoffs. Julius Randle was signed to help give Anthony Davis another big man to play with, but it did not work out, as the Pelicans struggled to a 33-49 record, missing the playoffs. This was impacted by the fact that Anthony Davis requested a trade after a rough start to the season and wasn’t used as much down the stretch.
Despite being ranked highly in a lot of stats the Pelicans still struggled. They ranked third in points per game, fifth in rebounds per game and third in assists per game. Unfortunately, the Pelicans ranked 27th in defense, allowing 116.8 points per game. They also ranked 24th in three-point percentage.
Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill, E’Twaun Moore, Christian Wood, Frank Jackson and Kenrich Williams are all under contract for next season. Julius Randle has a player option, while Jahlil Okafor and Dairis Bertans have team options. Davis has said that he still wants to be traded after the draft lottery.
The Pelicans have three picks in the 2019 NBA Draft.
First Round: Pick No. 1
Second Round: Pick No. 39, 57
Wings- For the last several years, the Pelicans have had Davis and Holiday, but not much in between. The one solid wing player they had, Buddy Hield, they traded for Cousins. With Holiday and Randle likely back, they will still need better wing play next season.
Rim Protector- With Davis unable to play as much with the trade request, Holiday led the team with 0.8 blocks per game. Randle is an offensive and rebounding beast on the inside, but he isn’t a great shot blocker. They need someone who can block shots to improve or the defense will continue to suffer.
Shooters- Ranking 24th in a three-point shooting league is not a good thing. If they can get players who can both play on the wing and shoot threes at a high rate, they will have a more complete team.
First Round: Pick No. 1: Zion Williamson, F, Duke
Williamson is the most coveted player in this draft class and for good reason. He has a well-built body and is an athletic freak. His ability to impact the game in a variety of ways is what makes him a potential superstar. He is also a cerebral player that makes smart basketball plays. If Davis is finally convinced to return, he can start alongside Williamson and potentially Randle. That would be a big lineup, but could create matchup problems. If Davis is gone, the frontcourt will likely consist of Williamson and Randle (assuming he takes his player option or signs a better deal with the team), which is still pretty solid. Either way, they are getting a generational player who will help the team immediately.
Second Round: Pick No. 39: Dylan Windler, SG/SF, Belmont
Windler was a great college player for Belmont, who has the size and length to be a good wing in the NBA. He is a good shooter, which also fills one of the Pelicans’ biggest needs. At Belmont, he was used to being the focus of most defenses, but in the NBA he can be used to stretch the floor for other great players.
Pick No. 57: Aubrey Dawkins, SG/SF, UCF
New Orleans will have a late second round pick that is from Denver via Milwaukee. They can further increase their chances of getting a solid wing player in this draft by selecting Dawkins. The 6-foot-6 wing transferred to UCF to play for his father, after starting his career at Michigan. He averaged 15.6 points per game this season and shot over 40 percent from deep. Dawkins showed his talents in the NCAA Tournament against Duke, when he scored 32 points and nearly helped UCF pull off the second-round upset.